The divorce process can be scary. Your financial stability can certainly take a hit, but if you’re like most parents, then your primary concern may be how your divorce will affect your relationship and time with your children. This might be especially true if you’re a father.
There’s a perception out there that the law favors mothers when it comes to child custody arrangements, which means that fathers are behind the eight ball when it comes to securing primary physical custody or even lenient visitation.
Fortunately, this isn’t true. Pennsylvania’s child custody laws are gender neutral, meaning that they don’t favor one parent over the other. Instead, the statutes focus on finding some sort of arrangement that is best for your children.
What is taken into consideration when the court issues a custody order
When you’re in the midst of a custody dispute, it can be easy to get lost in all of the back-and-forth that you’re having with your spouse or former spouse. As such, it might be difficult to step back and tailor your arguments to fit the best interests determination that the court is tasked with making. The good news is that you can turn to the law for guidance.
Under Pennsylvania law, the court is allowed to consider a number of factors when making a custody determination. Those factors include:
- The parental responsibilities that each parent carried during the marriage
- Each parent’s ability to provide a stable and loving home
- The child’s bond with each parent
- Any history of drug or alcohol abuse possessed by each parent
- Each parent’s mental health
- The physical health of each parent
- Each parent’s ability and willingness to encourage a positive relationship with the other parent
- The child’s preference, depending on his or her age
- The child’s needs, including those pertaining to education and medical care
- Any history of domestic violence
Although that may seem like a lot, the fact is that the statute allows the court to take any other facts that it deems relevant into consideration. Therefore, as you prepare your child custody case, you need to take a holistic look at the facts at hand not just to prepare your arguments, but also to anticipate the other side’s strategy so that you can effectively counter it.
How do you build your custody case?
There are a lot of things that you can do right now to build your custody case. You can obtain any records that may be indicative that the other parent poses a threat to your child, such as police reports or inappropriate text and email communications, but you can also gather evidence that you’re an appropriate parent who has a strong bond with his child. Think about witnesses who can attest to your parental abilities, and consider whether seeking a child custody evaluation is proper under the circumstances. And always craft your arguments with the child’s best interests in mind.
Do you need an attorney’s help?
With so much to take into consideration, it’s easy to get tangled up and struggle to make targeted arguments that seek the outcome that you think is right for your child. But that’s where an experienced family law attorney may be able to assist you. So, if you think that you could benefit from having a legal advocate on your side who can help you argue for your child’s best interests, then now may be the time to seek out that help.